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This Is Not a Test: A Novel Paperback – June 19, 2012
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From School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up-Sloane Price has been raised by an abusive father, and her life is a living nightmare. Her only silver lining is her older sister, her protector and her main source of strength. But Lily runs away, abandoning Sloane and leaving her to deal with the consequences. The past six months of torment have left the teen a shell of her former self and destroyed her will to live. When the zombie apocalypse strikes, she flees one life of horror in exchange for another. Rescued by a group of teenagers, Sloane and company painstakingly make their way across town, finding refuge inside Cortege High School. Huddled behind barricades, the group tries to make sense of the madness outside while grieving for their loved ones-all while hearing the constant thump, thump of the zombies at the doors. This Is Not a Test is a riveting and powerful novel that unfolds through the brutal first-person narrative of Sloane, a broken teen who in many ways is already dead. As the story evolves, the relationships among the characters intensify as they are pushed to the brink of humanity. Summers's brilliant writing has readers confronting their own fears while witnessing what happens to good people when forced to make ruthless decisions in a senseless world. This fascinating and haunting story with sophisticated content and themes will stay with readers long after they finish the last page.-Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NYα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
“This Is Not a Test is both sexy and desolate, and it will blast a hole through your heart, yet somehow start to stitch it back together again” ―Daisy Whitney, author of The Mockingbirds and The Rivals
“Courtney Summers is a ferocious talent in YA fiction. This Is Not a Test brought me to tears, caused me to gasp in shock in public places, and almost put a stop to my heart . . . Summers' voice is raw with emotion, and utterly right for the impending zombie apocalypse.” ―Nova Ren Suma, author of Imaginary Girls
“[Courtney Summers] blends all the perfection and simplicity that defines her writing so well with this added paranormal element for a snappy, exciting story I just couldn't stop reading, and then I got to the very end and realized that it was about so much more than just making it out alive.” ―Julie Cross, author of Tempest
“Intriguing.... It takes some artistic guts to set a portrayal of a suicidal teenager amid attacking zombies, but Summers has a history of risky choices.... Unusual and absorbing.” ―Kirkus
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Top Customer Reviews
The story flows effortlessly and doesn't deviate. There are no "fillings", every word and every scene fits with the story.
I enjoyed this book very much.
What happens when the girl who never wanted to keep going ends up being one of the only to survive?
This book just blew me away. The prose was absolutely wonderful, the book well-written, the plot shocking, and the characters are complex, each with their own ups and downs. I'll admit, I was worried that witht he zombies, I wouldn't like it, much less love it. I've never liked zombies so I was a bit nervous to start this book. And yet, I still dove head-first in this awesome book. This has been said so many times (About a gazillion), but zombies were not a major part of This is Not a Test. I repeat, they were not a major part of Thisis Not a Test. Another worry: They were locked in a school? How was Courtney Summers going to write a 300 page story in the same exact setting? I didn't know, I thought it was impossible. But somehow she did it and not only did she accomplish it, she made it into one of my favorite books of 2012!
Let's talk about the creep factor: I was reading This is Not a Test at night, despite many warnings not to, and had reached a part where the zombies come a-knocking. And....my door creaked open. That was the part where I put the book down and turned out the lights. The writing is intense, to say the least. After all, we have 6 teenagers who are desperate to stay alive after everyone and everything they loved have gone up in smoke (figuratively, of course.) No matter how annoying the characters become, you can't help but forgive them for each stupid thing. They just felt so real, so sad, and so...ugh. Tehre are no words for how amazing these characters are, despite their shortcomings.
Summary: This story was just so raw and I found myself on the edge of tears at times. Sloane had no idea who to follow, who to trust, or what to do. She made her own decisions, but almsot never felt like they were right. This is Not a Test has an ending as captivating as the beginning and a finish line so startling, I desperately hope there's a sequel. This book will leave you wanting more and will stay with you for days after you've finished, if not weeks.
As a narrator, Sloane is not a likable character. She's rather fatalistic and has a pretty crummy life even before the fall of humanity. She doesn't make connections with others, and she comes across as standoffish and self-isolating. So right away the narrative scope is interesting. The choices made by characters throughout the novel are pretty heartbreaking. I didn't tear up or anything, but I really appreciate the irony and the surprises that Summers threw into it.
The end is a bit of a cliffhanger- emotionally poignant but somewhat unresolved. However, there's a #1.5 in the series, and hopefully a #2 in the series at some point. And I will read both. Probably in one sitting again. Aside from the ridiculously pretentious names (which makes me think the town is 99% white folks, and these kids were born in the early 90s when it was en vogue to name your baby esoteric things), this book was really intriguing. I recommend it for fans of zombies, YA dystopian, and unreliable narrators.